Submitter: The cover image attached features an endearing but very old lady who looks way too much like my grandma. I saw this one and laughed because I could just imagine talking to my grandma about condoms, wet dreams, masturbation… (shudder) The details in the book are surprisingly sensitive and well-written, so it was a hard decision to weed it. Ultimately I weeded it because it’s dated, in both appearance and content. I’m also enclosing one page from the section on contraception that shows how dated it is. Time to put this grandma out to pasture and make way for all the other beautifully-illustrated books we’ve gotten recently on sex and puberty.
Holly: The image below may or may not be NSFW, depending on your workplace. Dr. Ruth talks very candidly, with pictures, about contraception in that one. Dr. Ruth Westheimer is 88 years old, and while she is still alive, I don’t know that she is still the person kids turn to for answers about sex. (Or is she? I don’t have kids, and I’m not a children’s librarian either. What say you, parents and youth librarians?) She was absolutely groundbreaking, totally approachable and frank and honest. I’m curious to know if Submitter is familiar with Dr. Ruth? The submission is totally true – she looks like a very nice grandma, but I can’t tell if Submitter is aware of who Dr. Ruth is or not. This book was published in 1993, and I am a child of the 1980s, but this image is exactly how I will always think of Dr. Ruth. I would have asked her anything and not been embarrassed. She was that good at what she did. In fact, it was almost because she looks like a nice grandma that she was so approachable. That said, I’d probably still weed this book. There are different contraceptive options available these days, for one thing.
Submitter: This book is pretty corny. Being 25 years old, it lacking any of the new issues facing kids when it comes to sex (i.e. sexting). I would have loved a few sexual plumbing jokes in this book. Now that would have been a good read.
Holly: Meh. I’ve seen worse, but I agree that to be most effective, these kinds of books need to be fairly current. They should cover sexting, for sure!
The Hygiene of Marriage
1942 (second edition)
1932 (original copyright)
This is an example of a pretty forward thinking marriage manual. This book is mostly about sex. In many ways, this particular book is more open minded than many later books from the 1950s. The most interesting part is the discussion of birth control. Not only does the author discuss methods, but also details the health reasons for women, especially poor women, to control family size.
There is also a thorough discussion of the Comstock Act and the efforts of Margaret Sanger. The author also takes lawmakers to task for making this information difficult for single women to obtain. I am sure if Everett were alive today, she would be dissapointed in the lack of progress in women’s health concerns.
Given the condition of the edition I looked at, I would imagine this was passed around quite a bit. Unfortunately, time has taken its toll on this book and my copy won’t last too much longer. Fear not, quite a few health archives and university collections still have this title.